Glyphosate disrupts oestrogen-linked genes

April 2015

The bases for claims that glyphosate herbicide is safe in food are that it acts on a biological process that is only present in plants, not animals, and that any glyphosate absorbed during digestion passes through the body unchanged.

Both of these are true.

However, the present-day, massive, volumes of glyphosate sprayed on, and absorbed by, most GM commodity crops has focused attention on whether the assumptions about glyphosate's 'inert' nature in animals tell the whole story.

Amidst increasing concerns that glyphosate, while not directly toxic, may have endocrine disrupting qualities, and aware that "the expression of an enormous number of genes" is regulated by the oestrogen hormones, a team of scientists in Texas had a look at what all these interacting genes do under the influence of both glyphosate and oestrogen.

First, the team screened the changes in gene expression in cultured human breast cancer cells exposed to trace levels (0.00028%) of glyphosate. During this, up- or down-regulation was recorded in 680 out of the 1550 genes tested (that's 44%).

Next, they focused attention on three key genes which demonstrated clear effects from the herbicide, and then exposed them to oestrogen as well as glyphosate. They found:
  • The expression of gene 'H1F1', whose function seems to include the induction of genetic instability preparatory to the natural self-destruction of oxygen-starved cells (as would happen, for example, as a result of ischemia or hypertension), was doubled by glyphosate.
  • The expression of gene 'CXCL12', whose function seems to include stimulation of immune responses and blood formation, was halved by glyphosate.
  • The expression of gene ' ELR1', whose function seems to include control of cell growth, was halved by glyphosate.
All these genetic reactions of the herbicide became exaggerated in the presence of oestrogen.

In summary, there was "a bewildering array of potential gene regulation effects" caused by glyphosate, and made worse by oestrogen.


The above few examples give a clear picture of glyphosate's ability to interfere with a whole swathe of vital protective and tissue-formative gene functions.

The herbicide appears to disrupt the genetic capacity for appropriate, finely-tuned and interactive expression, especially in genes varied by oestrogen levels.
There's a very sound basis here for cellular and whole body ill-health caused by the chronic low levels of environmental glyphosate which are now the norm [1].

This is all the evidence we need that glyphosate, passing through the body unchanged and without accumulating anywhere, could nevertheless be harmful o health. The Texas experiment was published eight years ago. Ask our regulators why we're still being exposed to this endocrine-disrupting herbicide.


  • R. Hokanson, et al., 2007, Alteration of estrogen-regulated gene expression in human cells induced by the agricultural and horticultural herbicide glyphosate, Human & Experimental Toxicology 26

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